Sitting less can reduce the risk for many diseases and dying prematurely.

Sitting Too Much Raises the Risk for Dying Sooner

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original blog here.

STUDY SHOWS THE MORE HOURS SPENT SITTING THE GREATER THE CHANCE OF DYING

If you sit more than you sleep, you may have Sitting Disease. That’s the term used to describe a sedentary lifestyle. And even if you exercise for an hour a day – which very few people do -you’re not off the hook. Sedentary is defined as a lack of whole body muscle movement for extended periods of time. So if you spend most of your day in a chair or a bed after that daily workout, you’re sedentary!

Sitting, or long periods of inactivity, have been shown to raise your risk of developing obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The increased risk for disease associated with sitting is not the same thing as the recommendation to exercise more. Sitting for many hours a day is the problem. Exercise or other forms of physical activity are also important to good health, but for different reasons.

Even your life expectancy is impacted by sitting according to a study done by the American Cancer Society in 2010. Researchers looked at the amount of time spent sitting and being active in 123,216 individuals. They found women who sat the most and were the least physically active had a 94% higher likelihood of dying compared to women who sat less and moved more. For men the increased likelihood of dying was 48% higher.

The extended hours spent sitting have accumulated as jobs moved from field to office and walking was replaced by riding. Modern conveniences in our homes eliminate the need to chop wood, haul water and scrub clothes, so we have more time to sit and watch television. The very presence of so many “screens” in our lives – whether TV, computer or handheld – and the endless programs, movies, games and connections we can see on them keep us sitting even longer.

The problem is our bodies weren’t designed for all this inactivity. Throughout human history survival required that we remain active and alert. The only time our ancestors weren’t in motion was when they were sleeping.

The obesity epidemic has been blamed on too many calories and not enough exercise, but sitting is another contributor to the problem. Once you sit down the rate at which you burn calories drops to about 1 calorie per minute, regardless of how hard you are thinking. Standing increases the rate at which we burn calories by 10% while walking increases it by 150%!

Sitting has been described by some as the new smoking it’s so damaging to our health. It‘s time to stand up and fight back against the Sitting Disease!

To put this information to use, all you need to do is stand up right now while reading the rest of this blog. Then build regular time-outs for standing into your day by doing things standing that you once did sitting. You can stand:

  • Every time the phone rings and remain standing for all calls
  • During all commercials when watching TV
  • In line inside the bank instead of sitting in the car in the drive-through
  • When reading at your desk for 10 minutes out of every hour
  • On subways, in waiting rooms, at the boarding gate in the airport
  • To change the channel on the TV or simply “lose” the remote

Check Just Stand! for more tips and information

See related post on Exercise Can be Fun!

Beware of Footwear That Can Make You Fat!

Beware of Footwear That Can Make You Fat This Holiday Season!

THE SHOES YOU WEAR CAN CONTRIBUTE TO WEIGHT GAIN WHEN TIME IS SHORT FOR EXERCISE

The holiday season is not only a challenge to your diet, it can also undermine exercise routine. If your workouts are being shortchanged by all the extra things you have to do this time of year, be prepared to move more while doing them! What you wear on your feet can make all the difference. Style is a luxury you can’t always afford when trying to stay in shape. Wear sensible shoes that let you keep moving to avoid holiday weight gain.

Pointy toes work for the Grinch, but won’t let you get through a day at work without a blister.

Pointy toes work for the Grinch, but won’t let you get through a day at work without a blister.

Untied sneakers are trendy at the Mall, but will keep you riding the escalator instead of taking the stairs.

Untied sneakers are trendy at the Mall, but will keep you riding the escalator instead of taking the stairs.

Cowboy boots are perfect if traveling by horseback, but not if you’re galloping to your subway stop.

Cowboy boots are perfect if traveling by horseback, but not if you’re galloping to your subway stop.

Rubber boots are great for puddles, not for climbing ladders to hang Christmas lights around the house.

Rubber boots are great for puddles, not for climbing ladders to hang Christmas lights around the house.

Flip Flips are fine when getting a pedicure, but won’t help you get your heart rate up walking from the parking lot.

Flip Flips are fine when getting a pedicure, but won’t help you get your heart rate up walking from the parking lot.

Plastic sandals make sense sitting by the pool, not when running a vacuum to clean up the cookie crumbs.

Plastic sandals make sense sitting by the pool, not when running a vacuum to clean up the cookie crumbs.

Strappy sandals show off your toes, but will probably get them stubbed if you try to do any last minute shopping.

Strappy sandals show off your toes, but will probably get them stubbed if you try to do any last minute shopping.

 

High heels are glamorous for a party, but will probably keep you in your seat instead of on the dance floor.

High heels are glamorous for a party, but will probably keep you in your seat instead of on the dance floor.

Eating and weight loss contests and cooking shows fill the airwaves while Americans grow fatter.

Competitive Eating, Cooking Shows and Weight Loss Contests – What’s Wrong with This Picture?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013 so the blog has been reproduced here.

TV SHOWS FOCUSED ON EATING, COOKING AND DIETING HAVE INCREASED ALONG WITH OBESITY

There are three things going on in this country that I believe have contributed to the obesity epidemic by redirecting our attention away from eating as a way to nourish and sustain us and turning it into a form of entertainment, a spectator sport, a chance for chef’s, coaches and trainers to become celebrities. They are Competitive Eating, Cooking Shows and Weight Loss Contests. Let me explain.

Competitive Eating

The International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) is the governing body for Major League Eating (MLE), an organization that oversees all professional eating contests. The MLE hosts more than 80 competitive eating events worldwide every year and provides “dramatic audience entertainment” for their sport and an “unparalleled platform for media exposure.”

According to their website, MLE promotions generate more than one billion consumer impressions worldwide annually. They say the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest alone generates more than 300 million consumer impressions on domestic television in just a few weeks.

Some other MLE sanctioned contest results that caught my eye were:

  • 7 quarter-pounds sticks of Salted Butter in 5 minutes
  • 17.7 pounds of cow brains in 15 minutes
  • 49 Glazed Doughnuts in 8 minutes
  • 36 Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches in 10 minutes
  • 6 pounds of SPAM from the can in 12 minutes

Cooking Shows

Thousands of cooking shows have been aired on American television since James Beard hosted the first postwar TV cooking show called I Love to Eat in 1946. Julia Child’s The French Chef was one of the longest running cooking shows, broadcast from February 11 1963 to 1973. Reruns continue to air on the Cooking Channel. Then in 1993 the Food Network made its debut and since then has created over 300 different food, restaurant and cooking shows.

The Food Network programming is now seen in more than ninety million households and includes number-crunching shows like $40 a Day, 30 Minute Meals, 5 Ingredient Fix and 24 Hour Restaurant Battle. In 2005 the reality contest The Next Food Network Star made its appearance, pitting viewers against one another for the chance to have their own cooking show.

Weight Loss Contests

The Biggest Loser premiered on October 19, 2004 with 12 contestants vying for a $250,000 Grand Prize. On September 20, 2011 the show kicked off Season 12 with 15 contestants competing in a “Battle of the Ages” that groups them by age for the first time. Hundreds of contestants have lost weight and won a few moments of notoriety in between.

The series is now an international hit, produced in 25 countries and aired in 90. The Biggest Loser has also become a “lifestyle brand” made up of merchandise and services inspired by the show and promoted through its subscription-based online diet and exercise extension at www.biggestloser.com. Spending on these consumer products has generated over $300 million through 25,000 major retailers.

A newer entry in the television weight loss genre is Heavy, a docudrama that follows 22 heavy individuals facing “extreme life-threatening health consequences” as a result of their obesity. The producers say this is not a competition or stunt, but an in-depth look at the weight loss journeys of each participant over a six month period of time.

The Problem

All this attention on eating, cooking and losing weight follows a parallel trajectory with our rising rates of obesity. Is there a connection? I think there is, and if you agree, it may be time to turn off the TV and take a walk.

How has watching any of these shows changed your life?

Getting your body in motion is all it takes to exercise

Exercise Can Be Fun!

Do what you like to take the work out of workouts

I don’t have a problem getting enough exercise. I spend at least one hour a day doing something most people would call exercise, then sneak in lots of other mini workouts just for the fun of it. I live at the beach so take long walks along the ocean shoreline or on the board walk that extends for miles alongside it. I cultivate a big vegetable garden that is 99% weed free and 100% herbicide free. When out listening to live music, I always dance.

Those activities don’t feel like exercise to me because I enjoy doing them so much. Sometimes I have to time myself to stop weeding after 30 minutes so I can get back to doing the real work I’m supposed to do, like writing these blogs. But that’s a whole lot better than having to force myself to lift weights for half an hour.

Don’t ask me to swim laps in a pool or pedal endlessly on a stationary bike, either. I don’t like to do those things and will surely find a way not to. My goal is to get a workout without it feeling like work.

So while other people check the morning weather to decide if they’ll need an umbrella to get where they’re going, I check it to see if the skies will be clear enough to go outside and play. And if I can’t, I feel cheated out of doing the thing I look forward to most each day.

Anything you enjoy doing that involves some form of movement can count as part of your required physical activity. Yes, there are important guidelines that tell us we should vary our exercise routines to develop strength, stamina and flexibility, but the most important recommendation of all is to put the time in. By doing something that’s fun, you’ll spend more time doing it and reap far more benefits than procrastinating about what someone else thinks you should be doing.

This enlightened approach to exercise will work wonders on your mental health, too. When all the guilt over what you’re not doing is replaced by the pleasure of doing what you want, you attitude improves immeasurably. Exercise doesn’t have to be exhausting and it shouldn’t hurt. It should simply put your body into motion for an extended period of time with a smile on your face.

So what would you do if you could ignore all of your other obligations for the day and just spend it doing an activity you love? Now how are you going to get that activity back into your life on a regular basis? Answering those questions is one exercise you should complete without procrastinating!